MPPA Weed Watcher Program
Become a Weed Watcher and
Help protect the Future of Messer Pond!
June 2011, Amy Smagula, NHDES Limnologist/Exotic Species Program Coordinator, provides On-Pond Training to MPPA Weed Watchers
Volunteer Weed Watcher Program Description
MPPA participates in the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) volunteer Weed Watcher Program which has taken a proactive approach to exotic aquatic species control. Many New Hampshire lake residents, lake associations, fishermen, and water recreationists are taking part in this program, and you can too!
Exotic Variable milfoil, Eurasion milfoil, Fanwort, Brazilian elodea, Hydrilla and Water chestnut are blanketing waterbodies throughout the state. Infestations of these exotic aquatic plants lead to diminished wildlife habitat, decreased recreational potential, and lowered property values.
Why are these exotic plants such a problem? Native plant communities have evolved together over hundreds of years. Animal and insect grazers have become specialized to feed on these native plants. Since exotic plants are introduced from outside of the state, they have no established relationships with native fauna that would keep their growth in check. When these exotic plants grow without natural controls they encroach into and replace the habitats of native plants, disrupting the food chain, stunting fish growth and degrading wildlife habitat. Waterbodies with exotic plant infestations in New Hampshire are considered impaired for aquatic life support.
In more recent years the spread of exotic aquatic animals has also become a threat to NH waterbodies. These include exotic Zebra mussel, Asian clam and Spiny water flea. Zebra mussel and Asian clam propagate rapidly and compete with our native fish for food and space. They are also easily drawn into and can attach to boat engines causing damage. Spiny water flea is an invasive zooplankter. It negatively influences larval fishes by competing directly for zooplankton prey and being an undesirable food source due to the long, barbed tail.
Unfortunately, eradication of these exotics is rarely possible. For any invasive species, our best available strategies are prevention and early detection. Some of these plants can grow up to an inch per day. If new infestations are caught early, low-tech methods like hand-pulling can keep them under control and prevent a whole-lake infestation.
Anyone can become a Weed Watcher. Volunteers like these are the best line of defense because they are often the most familiar with the waterbodies they choose to monitor, allowing them to notice even a subtle change in plant growth.
Weed watching usually takes place once per month from late May through September.
Volunteers will be instructed on how to conduct a weed survey, what to look for, and what to do if a possible problem is discovered. Volunteers will also receive a binder full of information on the program and details on the most threatening invasives. Included in the binder is a plant identification key for common plants on our waterbodies. There is no cost to the volunteer. The only equipment a volunteer will need is a boat and a nice bright summer day.
Don't let this happen to our pond...
Variable Milfoil infestation in a Squam Lake marina
Photo Courtesy NHDES
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Messer Pond Protective Association
PO Box 103
New London, NH 03257
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